Money 20/20 Asia Day One snapshot

Image credit: Money 20/20 Asia

Following its exciting Asian debut last year, Money20/20 returned to Singapore yesterday with a line-up of more than 320 innovative and disruptive speakers. More than 3,500 attendees are expected for the three-day event, with senior executives from financial firms and tech giants joining startup superstars to exchange ideas, hone their plans, and forge new partnerships that will shape the future of money.

Opening Day One, Money 20/20 president Tracey Davies outlined the four central themes of the 2019 event: challenger banks, platform ecology, tokenisation, and cyber security.

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Token Day: Tackling the hype and tracking the value

Jed McCaleb, co-founder and CEO of Stellar, is confident that we will see a snowballing of blockchain-based global payments in the coming six months and beyond as a critical mass of players come onboard together. He was on stage with IBM’s head of blockchain and digital currencies Jesse Lund, who announced IBM’s World Wire: a “new type of payment network built for regulated financial institutions, both banks and non-banks,” allowing them to transact across borders in real time. Using the Stellar public blockchain, World Wire went into “limited production” this week in 72 countries with support for 47 currencies. Six international banks have already signed up to issue stablecoins on the platform. IBM’s vision is to enable financial inclusion for the unbanked: 2 billion worldwide, 1 billion of whom already have a phone capable of storing digital value.

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Flying high: BigPay takes off

After launching BigPay at Money 20/20 one year ago, Tony Fernandes was back with an update: BigPay is now a fully licensed e-money issuer with about 300,000 users and a collaboration with Mastercard. The charismatic AirAsia chief pointed to the similarities between aviation and financial services – where innovators backed by regulators that want change are disrupting incumbents to make services more inclusive. BigPay makes travel easier by eliminating currency exchange problems and charges, but 90% of spending on the app is already on non-airline services. Tony said BigPay is advantaged by its AirAsia database and regional knowledge, but fintech success is about product, people, pricing, and transparency. Remittance and lending services are part of the BigPay plan.

Much more than payments

  • “WeChat Pay is more than payment” says Wendy Sun, Tencent’s senior product director. She cited WeChat Pay’s ability to deliver simple and secure online and offline payments for consumers and to help merchants access a large user base, optimize the O2O experience, and enhance CRM via the WeChat ecosystem.
  • OVO has become Indonesia’s largest digital payments platform by turning payments into a service and embedding that service in multiple applications. CEO Jason Thompson revealed that one of OVO’s key strengths is that it is not bound by phone capacity or connectivity: OVO is present on 115 million devices in Indonesia as of this month. Last year, OVO distributed $600 million of OVO points to customers, with a 95% redemption rate driving a 40% increase in cross-usage for partners like Tokopedia and Grab.

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Grabbing the limelight:

Grab dominated the main Matrix stage on the first afternoon of Money 20/20 2019.

  • Grab co-founder Hooi Ling Tan reiterated that Grab’s mission is to improve quality of life for the more than 600 million Southeast Asians. Its future path has three strands: increasing opportunities for the millions of micro-entrepreneurs in the Grab ecosystem; improving financial inclusion for a very under-banked and under-insured region; and creating an integrated super-app for the middle-market, with healthcare, financial services, ride-hailing, etc.
  • Grab Financial Group senior MD Reuben Lai announced Grow with Grab, a comprehensive financial services offering to support the region’s SMEs with micro-loans, micro-insurance, a Pay with GrabPay checkout system for online merchants, bill paying by instalment, and other services. Grab has served more than 9 million micro-entrepreneurs over the past six years and has the scale and data insights to rapidly and efficiently bring financial services to this market.
  • Hooi Ling Tan also sat down with Zhong An International president Wayne Xu to explain how the partners are creating a digital insurance marketplace for Southeast Asia. Just two months after announcing the collaboration, Zhong An is now enabling Grab drivers to top-up and apply for medical leave and personal-accident insurance via the Grab app. Fractionalised premiums, micro-life insurance, and critical illness policies are set to be offered later to reach the region’s un- and under-insured.

With six stages buzzing with activity, Money20/20 attendees also engaged in lively discussions throughout the day, with compliance, security, and collaboration among hot topics that will remain on agenda tomorrow. Day Two will also bring presentations from emerging market regulators, Chinese tech disruptors, Stripe, HSBC ,and many more. Plus, the Money20/20 Asia Startup Pitch contest gets underway.

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